Week 21 has been a very up and down week. Most of my players have been either great or not good at all. The Braves pitching staff has been great in three games and worthless in two, but overall have had a nice week. Dustin Pedroia and Josh Hamilton have been fantastic and Adrian Beltre has been an absolute monster. On the flip side, Miguel Montero has been awful as has Elvis Andrus. Shortstop just gives me a freaking headache almost every week. Adrian Gonzalez got traded mid-week and Nelson Cruz and Mike Trout have been less than stellar. I am holding onto a slight league in my league overall for the week, but will come down to the wire with two days of games left.
Week 22 should be a big scoring week with over 20 of the teams in league playing seven games. No team plays five and I am guessing with all the seven games weeks, we will probably not have to play any six gamers either. Among the seven game teams, the Brewers look like a nice option this week with games in Wrigley Field and a weekend home series vs. the Pirates. The Cardinals offense should be a nice play this week with seven games also, but they do get four games against the nasty Nationals pitching staff. Suddenly, the Dodgers look like a potent offense after their blockbuster trade with the Red Sox. They get seven games this week also and for a nice little bonus, the first game of their week is at Coors. The Blue Jays also have a nice set of games, but their offense is so banged up, it will be tough to find too many plays in their current lineup. The Orioles and Rays also look like nice plays this week as they both get a series in Toronto and both plays the Yankees, although the Orioles also get to play at Yankee Stadium.
Catcher: Buster Posey continues to be the hottest catcher in baseball and with seven games this week, Posey looks like the strongest option this week. Joe Mauer has been solid lately and he gets to face the Royals in a weekend series. Carlos Santana has cooled a little bit from his hot streak, but remains a viable play with the Indians seven games this week. It is just tough to consider Mauer or Santana when Posey also has seven games. If you wanted to cut some cap at catcher this week, John Jaso could be a decent play as the Mariners have seven games. Jaso has been hitting the ball well and drawing a lot of walks, but he also does not play as often as the top catchers. Another cheap option this week could be Mauer's teammate, Ryan Doumit.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez has 27 RBI the last three weeks and now finds himself hitting in front of Matt Kamp and Hanley Ramirez. Gonzalez looks like a very strong play this week in his new surroundings. With a full seven game home slate, Billy Butler is also a very strong option this week. Butler has hit over .320 the last three weeks and has finally found a consistent power stroke this year. With the Tigers seven game schedule, Prince Fielder is another very good consideration. He does face three lefties this week, but the only really tough one is Chris Sale. There are not many solid cheaper options at 1B this week, but if interested, I would take a look at Chris Davis with a series in Yankee Stadium and its short right fired porch or Anthony Rizzo, but Rizzo's power has been sapped recently with only one homer the last three weeks.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia has managed to stay on fire despite all the commotion in Boston. He has hit about .370 the last three weeks and was huge this week in my lineup. He does have to go on the road this week in tough hitter's parks in Seattle and Oakland. Aaron Hill remains a very nice play and has smoked the other 2B the last three weeks in power with seven homers. Hill has to go on the road this week so I am leaning towards not using him away from Chase Field. Ben Zobrist has finally been hitting well recently and gets a nice four game series in Toronto this weekend. If you wanted to move away form Pedroia on the road, I think Zobrist is the next best choice this week at 2B. The best cheap option this week looks to be Jose Altuve who gets five of his seven games at home this week. Altuve is not going to hit the ball out of park much, but he is running a lot recently with seven stolen bases in the last three weeks.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre has been an absolute beast this week. Nothing like tossing up a three-home run game and then backing it up by hitting for the cycle a couple nights later. Miguel Cabrera coupled with a seven game week are always a good thing, but Miggy has been a little banged up this week so I will want to see him play Tuesday before slotting him in for sure this week. The Tigers and Cabrera did say after Sunday's game that Miggy would be fine to start on Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez appears to finally showing some signs of bring the old Hanley. He is hitting .300 over the last three weeks and has been driving in runs at a pretty good rate. On the cheaper side, Edwin Encarnacion somehow keeps hitting even as the rest of the line-up around him ends up the DL. Ency still has six bombs the last three weeks and has been one of the better values at 3B all year. Another guy to consider this week is Aramis Ramirez. The Brewers have a nice schedule and A-Ram has been hitting for power lately and slots in the middle of a strong lineup.
Shortstop: As good as his Ranger teammate Adrian Beltre has been, Elvis Andrus has been about as awful. Shortstop continues to be an extremely weak position and tough one to fill every week. Derek Jeter has been the best SS by far recently, but he only has six games this week, three of which are against the nasty Rays pitchers. Jimmy Rollins has seven games this week, but they are all on the road. J-Roll has had batting average issues all year, but he is finally running a bit and also showing a little pop. He is hard to time and is streaky, but he has the most upside of the seven game shortstops. Starlin Castro is another solid option to consider, but his lack of power makes it tough to take him. On the cheap side, Alcides Escobar has been hitting for average pretty much all year, but like Castro, he hits for no power, but at least Alcides is cheap. JJ Hardy is another guy to consider, but is another guy that is very streaky. The O's have a nice schedule this week, so if you think Hardy has a hot streak in him, this is the week to play that feel. Finally, another cheap guy who has emerged lately is the Angels' Erick Aybar. Aybar is hitting .360 over the last three and tossing in some homers to go with his steals. He is priced very cheaply and could be a good option as saving money at SS makes a lot of sense since none of the expensive guys are really going off this year.
Outfield: Mike Trout with seven games is a slam-dunk. Is Allen Craig the most underrated dude in the league right now? Craig has mashed all year when healthy and has been especially hot lately hitting .390 for the last three weeks. As hot as Craig has been, no one has been quite as hot as Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has a ridiculous 10 bombs in the last three weeks and is finally rewarding all the people who took him in the second round of drafts. Stanton only has six games this week, so I will probably look elsewhere, but with how hot he has been, he could make up the game disadvantage very easily. Speaking of guy's finally coming around, B.J. Upton has finally started to produce like the talented dude he is. He is always up and down, but his schedule lines up very nicely this week with seven games, including a four game series in Toronto. Matt Kemp only has one home run in the last three weeks, but of course he has to be considered with the Dodgers seven-game week. On the same note, Ryan Braun is always a consideration when the Brewers have seven games. Braun has been struggling recently, but when he gets hot, he is just about the best guy out there.
On the cheaper side besides Trout and Craig, Desmond Jennings has been pretty good lately and gets the Rays nice seven game schedule this week. If you wanted to go a little further outside the box, how about Carlos Gomez? He is never going to hit for average, but he has speed to burn and has been tossing in some home runs lately. Carlos Beltran has been ice cold the last three weeks, but Beltran has been phenomenal for his price this year and is always a strong call when the Cards have a full seven game slate. A few other cheaper names to consider with seven games are Ben Revere, Andy Dirks and Cody Ross.
Pitching: The Braves have been a little up and down this week, but overall they have turned out to be a pretty strong play. Any time the Nationals have seven games, they are the first team I look at. They do get two games versus the lowly Cubs, but they also have to deal with a four game weekend series versus the high-scoring Cardinals. In addition, the two start pitchers for this week are their fourth and fifth starters, Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson. The Giants look like a very nice play this week with five games combined versus the poor offenses of the Astros and Cubs. Unfortunately the two steps are from Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, but they still look very good on paper. The Dodgers also look pretty nice with six of their seven games at home (including two against the Padres), but the 7th game is not only at Coors, but it is also Joe Blanton pitching at Coors. The nice part is that that you get two home starts from Clayton Kershaw, which is obviously very appealing.
Flipping over the AL, the Rays with seven is always someone to consider. Their team ERA currently sits at a ridiculous 3.26 when you consider that they play in the AL East. They do get four games in Toronto, but the Jays lineup is nowhere near what it was in August. The problem is that they also get one game in Texas and also two in Tampa vs. the powerful Yankees. The two steps look like Matt Moore and maybe Alex Cobb, but Jeff Niemann may slot in later in the week for Cobb's second start. Not an ideal situation. The Tigers get two games vs. Kansas City and two games vs. Cleveland, but the two steps of Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello do not excite me. The Angels have not been able to really get it going, but have a nice pitching schedule this week with a weekend series in Seattle and two games in Oakland. The two steps are from CJ Wilson and Zack Greinke, which looked a lot better 3-4 months ago, but they still have the talent to get hot. The Angels look like the best AL option this week.
I came down to the Giants, Dodgers and Angels at the end and decided to risk the one Coors game to get two home starts from Kershaw.
Here is where I ended up for Week 22:
C: Buster Posey ($9.5)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez ($9.0)
2B: Dustin Pedroia ($7.6)
3B: Aramis Ramirez ($8.2)
SS: Erick Aybar ($6.1)
OF: Matt Kemp ($11.4)
OF: Allen Craig ($8.1)
OF: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Miguel Cabrera ($12.0)
P: LA Dodgers ($20.0)